Please meet Elana Anteby Shemueli, a vibrant teacher at her alma mater, Ilan High School. Born to Susan and Max Anteby, Elana is one of six daughters. She grew up in Brooklyn, attended Magen David Yeshivah for elementary school, and went to Ilan High School in Deal, New Jersey.
What was Elana like as a child? Though she was not always an easy child, she was definitely entertaining. “My family fondly remembers ‘The My Show,’ in which I used to sing and dance for my parents and sisters. My best friend, who is now my sister-in-law, and I spent hours making up songs and dances.”
Academically, Elana loved learning and was an extremely conscientious student.
After high school, Elana enrolled in The New Seminary in conjunction with Adelphi University, a dual program, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and Social Sciences.
Elana is an introspective and growth-oriented woman who works at having strong emunah in Hashem. She continually endeavors to change for the better. “I am a hard worker but not a perfectionist. I am still growing and trying! I have learned to do my absolute best, but I leave the results up to Hashem.” Her passions are family, teaching, and dance and her children are her proudest accomplishments.
Elana married her naseeb, Avi Shemueli, at the end of her first year of college. The couple lives in the Deal community with their children and they love it there!
Elana’s calling was teaching. Even as a little girl she knew that she wanted to teach.
“I played school until I was embarrassingly old. I love learning and knowing information, and sharing knowledge about the world, and about people. I mostly love teaching my students about our awesome relationship with Hashem. I love when they can relate back, how they were able to apply a life lesson during an experience in their own lives.”
Elana teaches psychology, Navi, and science. She also coordinates programming including Shabbatons, grade wars, and the end-of-the-year banquets. “I seriously treasure my job. I adore the staff, the students, and the atmosphere.”
Elana’s teachers from her own high school days are now her colleagues. They were her role models, who taught by example, and they were always smiling. “My Ilan teachers were so passionate about their lives and their connection to Torah and Hashem. They made me want to live that same kind of life,” Elana relates
Elana found it challenging to relate to her students emotionally on Zoom. She and her colleagues tried their best to teach the curriculum. Covid’s silver lining for Elana was that she was inspired to develop her dance business.
Elana first started LETSDANCE as a way of celebrating her daughter’s bat mitzvah during the pandemic. “We couldn’t think of how else to celebrate with just close family, and it was such a novel idea that I decided to launch it for the community girls.”
Elana explained that her dance parties serve as a kosher outlet for young girls and even moms! “When you experience a dance party, it is intrinsically rewarding. The workout boosts endorphins, it’s social, the moves are cool, and you leave feeling like a rock star even if you never thought of yourself as a dancer before.”
LETSDANCE offers two options: 1) Private dance parties serve as the entertainment for a party, school event, or get together and 2) Pop-up dance parties, where Elana will host a dance party, and anyone can reserve a spot and join. For each dance party, Elana chooses a song and teaches an entire dance routine in just an hour, breaking down the moves step by step. The moves are contemporary yet modest. She tailors the dance routines to the level of the participants.
“I only use Jewish music with a high-energy beat and with a kosher message. They are hard to find. Girls send me songs, which is so appreciated.”
In the beginning, Elana was embarrassed to dance in front of her students. She feared that her students would lose respect for her in the classroom. “I was so wrong. It has only deepened our relationships.”
Elana’s husband and children are extremely supportive and involved with her Ilan job and with LETSDANCE.
“They support me one million percent. I couldn’t function without their help and encouragement, especially my husband’s. He views my teaching job as extremely important, and he sacrifices a lot for me to be able to invest myself in teaching and my relationship with my students.”
Elana’s husband helps her with her Torah classes and her kids lend a hand in hosting the girls for Shabbatons and other events. “My children love the students and get to know them, so they are happy with my job.”
Elana shared that dance has become a great addition to her home. “My girls love practicing with me, coming to my dance parties, learning the dances, and watching the dance videos. My husband and older kids babysit a lot at night when I do dance parties but are pleased for me.”
One may ask, how does Elana manage everything? She says, “Although it’s challenging to juggle working with being a wife and mother, with Hashem’s help, I’ve developed routines and systems to manage my time and energy.”
Community and Hobbies
Elana deeply cherishes her community.
“Our community is magnificent. Everyone respects each other regardless of their financial status and religious level.”
Elana teaches young married Ilan alumna through Kesher, an organization that fosters a continued connection between high school graduates and their teachers.
Elana loves to exercise and takes dance fitness classes, which feel therapeutic.
She explained that her dancing is essential for her and truly makes her happy. Even when she is overwhelmed, she carves out time to dance. “Dancing is the key to my happiness and makes me feel well taken care of. It gives me the fortification and energy to undertake challenges and do much more. When you feel happy, it’s so much easier to grow and to connect to Hashem.”
Applying the guidance of Rabbi David Ashear, the renowned author of the Living Emunah series, Elana and her students developed a joke-turned-motto for life: “Eat, sleep, exercise, and read Living Emunah.”
￼Elana’s Message for Prospective Teachers
Elana draws upon Rabbi Trenk (Just Love Them, Rabbi Dovid Trenk’s biography by Yisroel Besser) in defining her perspective on teaching. “If you can relate to your students as unique people, not just as classroom students, you will develop a beautiful relationship with them that makes them want to learn from you, no matter the subject. Some of my science topics are so boring, and yet the girls are excited and interested because they know how excited I am to be able to share the bond of learning and growing together.”
To connect with Elana and to book private events, you can reach her on her cell, 917-214-6840. She welcomes you to follow her WhatsApp status (using her cell #) to sign up for Pop-Up Dance Parties.
Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach. Her coaching specialties include life, career, and dating coaching. She can be contacted at email@example.com (www.lifecoachellen.com).